Updated: Mar 21
Detroit's nightlife has become more vibrant. There are more options for people to experience, with an influx of young professionals.
In our previous post about the Detroit dating scene, we explored the best places to venture for a fun night out. But there’s plenty more to do in Detroit than enjoy first dates - Motown is flushed with awesome venues and activities to explore with your ladies and your pals, as nightlife has begun to thrive over the past several years. And in this post, we’ll give you the low down.
Detroit Venues to Check Out
In just the past three years, we've seen a bunch of new spots come onto the Detroit nightlife scene: the always exciting, rock-and-roll hotspot UFO Factory (as seen in the last post); the up and coming hip-hop central Marble Bar in New Center; the incomparably booked El Club Detroit; and finally the excellent Otus Supply in Ferndale, which regularly books bluegrass, folk, and discerning post-hippie music. Meanwhile, the EDM-themed Populux came and went, but a re-energized Magic Stick returned to take its own spot back in the Majestic Theatre Complex.
Zach Tocco, who helps run the Majestic Theatre complex, has noticed a shift in how things are happening behind the scenes. He sees "more venues being filled by third-party promoters, a move away from a purely in-house talent buying model.” Overall, Tocco is optimistic about where nightlife is trending in Motor City, commenting that “it's definitely heading in the right direction."
Detroit’s Historic Club & Electronic Dance Music Scene
Electronic music has always been a mainstay of nightlife, and both Pontiac's Elektricity and the Grasshopper in Ferndale attract top local and international underground dance music every weekend. Grasshopper owner Troy Ramroop is buoyed by the scene.
"Detroit's nightlife has become more vibrant," he says. "There are more options for people to experience, with the occupancy of the city becoming younger and the influx of young professionals. The restaurant scene is booming: craft cocktail bars, small plates, and nightlife as a whole has grown exponentially from where we were eight to 10 years ago. Competition is at an all-time high, [and] maintaining a consistent packed club is a great challenge. I'm excited to be part of this growth of our city, and blessed to have a business that caters to those who love music."
El Club has brought sophisticated sound and light gear, and substantial talent-buying heft, to southwest Detroit.
"We have been building this club from the ground up, and really working to provide solid entertainment, education, and provide services to the community," co-owner and manager Graeme Flegenheimer says. He is particularly excited about reggae events at El Club, and how packed nightlife is across the city, with "too many good shows happening the same night."
Indulge in Detroit’s the Thriving Craft Cocktail Culture
As we covered in our last post, Detroit has some incredible cocktail bars to check out. And indeed, the craft cocktail scene continues to dominate the bar world. If you’re looking for a cool speakeasy, give Cafe d'Mongo's Speakeasy a go - it’s always one of the best reasons to try to park downtown.
Want a place to have some drinks once you’re off work on a business trip? The Kit Kat Klub, Tony's Sports Bar, Crossroads Pub, and The Old Miami - you can’t go wrong with any of them! Kick off work early and slide yourself into a booth until gravity really takes hold.
Bumbo's in Hamtramck is a new bar in an old space (Hank's) and it feels like an instant classic.
Co-owner and manager Tia Fletcher Krawczyk says that Detroit's nightlife is thriving, but adds that "as long as I can remember it's been great, there are just more places to go now."
"People feel more comfortable coming to the city," she says. "I'm seeing more of a mix of people coming in from elsewhere interested in what's going on, and less intimidated to do so. We haven't had investors, grants, designers, or managers, and have done it all ourselves from day one. We have a small cocktail list but nothing's over $8. Nothing takes too long or feels intimidating."
A similar concept fuels the mini-chain Art and Jakes, which is a prime example of a great Detroit sports bar. Other sports pubs to hit are Ciccarelli's, 24 Seconds, Wolverine Brewing, Hockeytown, and the Hub Sports Bistro. If it’s football or hockey season, grab some brews, eat some bar food, and buckle in for a slew of sports.
And how about some karaoke? There are plenty of local spots, but you can never go wrong having a night out with some friends or coworkers at Sneakers. Whether you’re the second coming of Freddie Mercury, or can barely hit a note right, Sneakers is sure to be a hit.
When it comes to non-bar venues for music, Third Man Records Cass Corridor is an awesome venue to visit if you can. It doesn't host events every night, but already scores best in show for a few events - the first ever area show by San Francisco's beautifully belligerent Mummies.
And while it might not be set up for live shows, Midtown's Griot Music Lounge, a lively little spot with a thoughtfully-curated selection of vinyl records played on the sweetest hi-fi, puts a Detroit spin on a trend that's thrived in Japan for decades. "Good times with good people, in a shared setting," is how proprietor John Taylor describes the lounge. Be sure to visit with friends from out of town.
The Bottom line
Detroit nightlife has shined in recent years, and we hope that this guide gives you an idea of all the places you can explore and leverage into your lifestyle. We hope you can get started planning your future outings in Detroit and integrate the city into your lifestyle. We hope that you’ll be able to get out there soon enough!
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